A few months ago, G had a harrowing return flight from a business trip (remember air travel?!). It was in the middle of a terrible storm and was extremely bumpy. The fact that he was suffering from food poisoning made the trip even more terrifying. It was one of those flights where the thought of not making it crosses your mind. He sat next to a retired U.S. Marine who, halfway through the flight, joked, “There are no atheists on this plane.”
When they landed, he turned to G and asked, “What are you going to do with your new life?” It was half a joke, but half serious — after a deep existential threat, you have an opportunity to evaluate what comes next, if you survive.
We are in that moment now.
While most of us do not face the life-and-death risk of COVID-19, most of us will emerge from this global crisis into a new life.
The last few weeks have stripped away many distractions from our lives. Some of us have chosen to clean closets, cabinets and drawers. We have woken up, some days, with the hours stretched out ahead of us with no plans, no chores, no errands, no social engagements.
Someday soon we will start to emerge from this self-imposed retreat. Whether you used this time to pursue a creative interest, or take some classes, start a yoga practice, or binge-watch TV shows, you will be changed.
We will all face a significant question: what will we do with the rest of our lives?
Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, suggests that, when we want to organize our spaces, we should gather up all our belongings into one space. As we look at each item, we should carefully discern which ones bring us joy. Those are the ones we return to our space. The items that serve no useful purpose can be thanked, and let go.
In this way, we are carefully curating from our own belongings that which still has a place in our lives.
It’s the same for everything else in our lives. We have had an opportunity to remove ourselves from the distractions that often kept us from living our best life. Now is an opportunity to gather them all together — the events, the meetings, the obligations, even the people. Before we automatically put them back into our life, we can ask ourselves: does this bring me joy?
If it brings us joy, we find an appropriate place. If not, we give it thanks, and let it go.
How will you curate your new life?